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Haitian doctors beg for help to face disaster

Port-au-Prince, Jan 16 (DPA) Painkillers, syringes, sterile bandages, sutures, gloves, masks, and as many more doctors and surgeons as possible are needed in Haiti to cope with Tuesday’s calamitous earthquake.

The list of medical needs seems endless for the emergency health professionals working around the clock to treat innumerable injuries.

Doctor Jooby Bienaime rattles them off with the exasperation of one who has been working too many hours without a break, and has little hope that the need will be met.

The Eliazar Germain clinic that he runs on Avenida Panamericana was not prepared for the continuing avalanche of injured patients since the magnitude-7 quake hit: more than 500 Tuesday alone, and as many as 200 more since then.

‘We’ve been working non-stop since the quake,’ he said, as he watched another victim being helped into a chair in the waiting room.

There is an operating room in the clinic, but it isn’t being used for lack of a qualified surgeon. The gynecological room has been converted into a morgue for the steady stream of bodies brought in.

‘We are really swamped,’ he sighed.

A few kilometres from his clinic, doctor Rachel Fanfantlissade also has no time for a break. The private surgery where she works opened its doors to the public after the quake, and the flow of injured patients coming in is still steady.

‘We haven’t stopped since Tuesday,’ she said from behind her surgical mask, which did not hide the dark circles under her eyes, as she attended several patients.

In the small reception room, the injured cram together as best they can to fit. One woman was bleeding profusely from her leg and a pool of blood had formed on the floor; no one was available to clean it up.

Outside the front door, more injured waited in parked trucks, as yet other waited under the awning of a shop.

The clinic was without electricity, which had not been restored in the capital, and relatives of victims assisted with candles to illuminate patients being treated.

‘We were not prepared for this,’ Fanfantlissade said.

‘We are waiting for foreigners to come and help us, still waiting,’ she said.

The first medical specialists from abroad were expected Saturday, and some non-governmental agencies were trying to set up operations amid the rubble.

But the need is incalculably greater, as each day surprises with new horrors. Damage to the country’s infrastructure is complicating relief efforts.

Fanfantlisade made a desperate plea for help from professional colleagues.

‘Any surgeon, any orthopedic doctor, would be more than welcome, because we are really saturated and the people are begging for help,’ she said.

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